Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One weekend, One beach trip, and One wrong bus later...

This weekend was fun and I was able to explore the city more with friends.  On Sunday my host parents had their son and his girlfriend over for lunch, who live near by in Elche.  They were both nice but they talked soo fast that I could barely understand them, nor get a word in.  After lunch my host parents took me on a small day trip to Santa Pola, a near by small town that the family vacations at every summer.  It was about a 20 min drive in the car and we were able to walk around the beach and through a little bit of the town.  Before we got on the beach we saw these giant salt mountains (or that's what I call them) because the salt is removed for the water for production. 

Me standing in front of the salt mountains.  Trust me they were huge!

After this we walked to the beach, Playa Lista, which is a nude beach in the summer.  All I can say is I'm glad we were there in the winter.  We took some photos here as well, which were absolutely beautiful!  From the beach we were able to see across the water to the city of Alicante, and in the other direction we were able to see the island of Tabarca, about an hour boat ride from the coast.

Palm tree lined streets

We ended our afternoon trip at la puenta, or the edge of the beach which comes to a point to look out towards alicante just as the sun was setting. 

Pepa y Paco at sunset, my host parents!

The weekend closed and my week has been great so far.  We had our first test in our intensive language class today.  Although the test went well I ended up getting on the wrong bus somehow on my way home.  3o mins later I realized we weren't at all near the city and I was on the wrong bus!  Luckily for me the bus returned to the University of Alicante shortly after my discovery, but then I was lost on the campus.  I called my host parents to tell them I would be late and when they could tell I was upset they immediately drove down to the University and picked me up.  So although I took the wrong bus, everything ended up ok.  And as the Spaniards always say, no pasa nada because everything will work out ok.  My friends and I booked our first weekend trip to Barcelona for the beginning of February and we can't wait.  Also this Thursday with CIEE we are going up to the Castilla Santa Barbara in Alicante and Saturday we have a day trip around the Province so more to come soon!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Host Family!

Tuesday was the day we had all been waiting for... the day we got to meet our host families!! Most of the students choose to live with a Spanish family while they are in Spain for the semester.  All the students in our program were waiting in one room with tons of butterflies in our stomachs, we were all so nervous/excited! So finally my turn rolled around and the people that are going to be my parents for the next 5 months waited in the hallway.  I met the mother, who I now call Pepa, and the dad, whose name is Paco.  They were immediately so nice and helped me with my GIANT luggage and drove me to their house.  They live in a nice apartment about a 10 minute walk to the center of the city and about a 5-10 minute walk to the beach.  Once we got to the house, Paco and Pepa gave me a tour of the apartment and they couldnt have been sweeter! As soon as you enter, I have my own section where I have a bedroom, bathroom, and another room beside mine.  A door even will close all of this away from the rest of the house if I want to.  Paco and Pepa had made my bed, put hangers in my closet, written down the wifi information and set up a desk area for me, laid out pillows and blankets, and totally stocked the bathroom.  They laid out towels for me, all new products (like toothbrush, soap, toothpaste, qtips, lotion, sunscreen, etc) and even bought shampoo for blondes haha i guess they saw a picture of me beforehand!  They have been so accomodating and so nice!

This is the courtyard at the apartment complex. 

Pepa and I went on a long walk and she showed me all of the city and where everything was in the barrio.  We walked past the beach and talked the whole time.  We passed literally THE MOST beautiful church I've ever seen it was huge!  It was a very old catholic church and we went inside, I wish I was able to take pictures but there were people inside and obviously I didn't want to be disrespectful but it was so beautiful. We've eaten delicious dinners and lunches at the house and I have really enjoyed their company.  They have had a hard time pronouncing my name but they keep practicing and improving.  Paco is always making me talk and quizzing me on different words by pointing to items around the house because he wants me to keep practicing my spanish and improve my vocabulary.  It's been a slight adjustment obviously but I think that the change is a huge part of the experience and so far adapting to everything has been a lot of fun. 

Me on one of the pretty streets in Alicante, near el puerto or port

We started our first day of class on Wednesday and we have 2 weeks of only one intensive language class where we practice our spanish each day for 4 hours.  In the class we review our spanish and practice talking in order to prepare us for our class we take at the Universidad de Alicante.  I am nervous about that class but hopefully I will be able to understand the professor!!! On Monday most of us in the program are going to begin a program called Quijotes.  Quijotes is an agreement that you are ONLY going to talk in spanish.  We talk spanish with the other american students all the time and the only time you are allowed to speak in english is when you talk to family and friends back home.  We also have a free day on Thursday nights where we can talk in english if we want to.  Last night a group of us went out to dinner for tapas and the bar we went to had a special where all of the food was only 1 Euro!  After we watched the Barcelona vs. Madrid soccer game together, and since my family jokingly told me I was only allowed to go if I cheered for Barca, I am a Barca fan now haha.  It was fun but when I took a taxi back the driver said he did not know where my street was so I had to show him on a map and explain it to him.  I even know enough Spanish that I was able to get sassy with him and tell him I wasn't going to pay extra on the meter because he didnt know where he was going.  He cut off the meter and didnt make me pay hardly anything. 

So much has changed in so little time but I am beginning to get my bearings and figure out everything in the city! Today I'm getting a Spanish cell phone so that will help a lot too.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Finally Here!

I can't believe I am finally in Alicante!!! I couldn't believe it when I got off the plane and boarded the bus heading back to where we are staying for orientation.  Flying over the city was phenomenal!  The water was a beautiful blue, the sun was shining, and there are palm trees everywhere!  We were all extremely jetlagged but a group of us decided to go ahead and dive right in the city on Sunday afternoon.  We ordered tapas (which was a struggle with our spanish) and then walked around the area of San Vicente del Raspieg, which is about 15 minutes outside of the actual city of Alicante.  San Vicente is where we will take classes with CIEE and where the Universidad de Alicante is located.  We were walking during the time of siesta (usually from around 2-5), and we were amazed at how many stores were closed and how dead the streets were. 

After our brief mini-tour, we had a few orientation activities then went out to dinner with our group.  The food here is good, but we have been getting tapas at every restaurant, so it's like 6-10 courses but they are all appetizers shared among the group.  This is the GIANT paella platters they brought out at lunch today:
So much food!

Today we had a very long day of orientation, but the best part was touring the actual city of Alicante where we will be living with host families.  The city is amazing and so beautiful! 

There are so many palm trees!

After our past two days of orientation I am so excited for the rest of the semester.  All of the staff on CIEE has been so nice and funny.  Tomorrow is our last day of orientation and we finally get to find out who our host families are.